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President accused of failing to back former minister for international post

vassilis demetriades, deputy minister of shipping, 2020
Former Deputy Shipping Minister Vassilis Demetriades

The government was called to explain itself on Wednesday over why Cyprus did not submit a candidacy for the secretary-general position of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) amid speculation that President Nikos Christodoulides had carried out a personal vendetta against a former minister who had not backed his presidential bid.

Seeking to set the record straight, former Deputy Shipping Minister Vassilis Demetriades published a lengthy post on his social media highlighting that he has been approached by Brussels both on a personal level but also through Nicosia to submit his candidacy for the IMO secretary-general post.

He said he had the necessary proof to back his claim and that despite the crunching deadline – which was on Tuesday – support for his candidacy was still present in European circles.

“The decisions by the Nikos Christodoulides government are completely respected. I cannot imagine that Christodoulides, whom I know for so many years due to our shared career in the public and diplomatic service, and our constructive collaboration in the past three years in cabinet, would make a decision based on revenge simply because I did not support his (presidential) candidacy. God forbid if something like that is going on.”

Demetriades also refuted rumours that his interest in the post was out of personal ambition and that he had acted of his own volition. “Those that know Vassilis Demetriades know that he did not wake up one day and dream that he wanted to become the IMO general-secretary.”

Meanwhile Disy has registered the matter with the House foreign affairs committee demanding the government offers clear answers over what happened.

“The criteria and procedures over the matter need to be known,” party spokesman Onoufrios Koullas said on Wednesday.

“The government has to declare its positions over the matter as to whether the possibility of the candidacy was properly examined and if it could have garnered support and reactions.”

Asked about the row on Tuesday evening after an awards ceremony, Christodoulides dismissed the whole affair saying the candidacy did not move forward because the foreign ministry determined there were not enough grounds to secure the position.

“If there was a possibility (of getting the post) why would we not pursue it?”

Former Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos called on the current finance minister and deputy shipping minister to explain why they had been sitting idly and keeping their silence while Brussels was keen to have a Cypriot nomination for the post.

Last week, Christodoulides tried to quash concerns over Greece’s decision to support Turkey’s nomination for the IMO general-secretary position in exchange for Turkey’s support for Greece to have a position as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

 

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